The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

Z is for Zorbing released by Stornoway as a single in July 2009

It really is incredible how quickly the way music is consumed these days.  Back in 2009, streaming didn’t exist, but there were a proliferation of websites and mediums through which unsigned bands could look to grab someone’s attention.

Stornoway had a brand of indie folk that was quite fashionable towards the end of the first decade of the 21st Century.  Two of its members – Brian Briggs (vocals, guitar), and Jon Ouin (bass) had met as students at Oxford University, and in due course they would be joined by brothers Oli and Rob Steadman on bass and drums, respectively.  Their debut single, as you can see from the picture at the top of the posting, was self-released with the contact info being via myspace and an e-mail address.

mp3: Stornoway – Zorbing
mp3: Stornoway – On The Rocks

In this instance, it worked. Stornoway came to the attention of a DJ at the local BBC radio station in Oxford, and from there things kind of snowballed, and by January 2010 they had signed a deal with 4AD Records who would release the debut album Beachcomber’s Windowsill in May 2010. The album was basically self-produced by the band and the record label was happy enough not to insist on the songs going through some sort of slick re-recording process.

The debut album did reasonable well in reaching #14. Zorbing was re-released by 4AD in June 2010, but it barely dented the charts at #74. It proved, however, to be the only single by Stornoway to breach the Top 75, but then again, such was the state of the music industry throughout the 2010s that the sales of physical singles were becoming increasingly irrelevant.

The band stuck around till 2016, releasing two more albums, Tales From Terra Firma (2013) and Bonxie (2015).

And with that, this extended break for the blog comes to its end. Tomorrow will see the return of the long-running Scottish songs series, while Mark E Smith and pals are back on Sunday, before things get back to full normality on Monday. There’s even some ICAs coming down the pipeline.



  1. I love this single , so many memories of the kids singing along in the back of of the car and a song with conkers in the first line , what’s not to love .
    Saw their penultimate final show and it’s still one of the top 5 gigs I’ve been to . The love and emotion at the venue for the band was amazing . Their musicianship and understanding of each other fantastic and the brave decision to play an unmiked up mini set halfway through was magical . All wrapped up with a version of this song that still sends shivers down my spine thinking of it .

  2. Wow, what a great pair of tunes! The deep bass background vocals, unexpected horns, and subtle keys on ‘Zorbing’ are killer. The slow build and great drumming on the B side are nice, too. Like an Oxford Fleet Foxes, sorta. Quality stuff.

  3. Yeah, what a great finish to your Random A-Z JC. I was also a massive Stornoway fan and have many happy memories of seeing them live. Although, my daughter insisted they were rubbish so we made sure we played them on long car journeys to counteract her One Direction car stereo take over.

    Apart from music (and beer and football and pubs) my passion is the natural world, in particular conservation and ornithology. Any band that can write a Velvet Underground fuelled song titled “Watching Birds”, with it being sung by a lead singer having a PhD in Wildfowl Behaviour who is now a senior warden of a nature reserve was going to be right up my street. So sad I didn’t get to see them on their farewell tour, I was hoping that my family had clubbed together to get them to perform in my front room for my 50th Birthday – they were fond of intimate gigs.

  4. Just loved Stornoway too, from the first singles to the last live gig cd. Not a hope of seeing them live, way out here in Canada. They never left the UK, as far as I know, playing all the way from Stornoway to Brian Brigg’s shed, but Toronto…let’s say o one was going to pool funds to get them to play from my shed anytime soon. Hard enough getting the albums shipped this far. My absolute favourite track of theirs? It is easily “Gondwanaland”, the b-side to the follow up “I saw You Blink” 7″. Magical! You should feature it too sometime, JC.
    Maybe I will do a Stornoway ICA soon…right after I finish the other 2 ICA’s I have started but never finished…

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